One of the most Important but overlooked principles of property management is the hunting access. Hunters have a certain type of persona, Type A. We want the most out of what we buy. If we buy a grape soda, the whole damn thing is getting guzzled. We want to use as much of this investment as possible. More is better, right?
I’ll challenge you on this one. I felt the same way. I had stands every 5 acres and would hunt them all through the season. Crucial mistake.
Don’t make the same emotional mistakes I did. Emotional? Yep, we tend to get attached to the land and get so dang emotional, we want to be on it all the time. My challenge is to sit back, don’t get emotional about it and let the land tell you how much pressure you should put on it.
I am going to showcase a property we recently covered on a podcast episode. These hunters have been hunting this property for as long as they can remember. They have had the same stands in the same trees for years. They walk in and out the same way.
Podcast Listening Options
Finally, one of the hunters started to question their methods. They have been killing 3 year olds but just haven’t been able to consistently get encounters with mature deer, even though trail cams show that they are there.
This property covers a lot of the issues I see with hunting in SW WI, rolling hills with some steep faces that fall into worn ditches and creek beds from years of runoff. I believe we took a great start by performing our online consultation, my findings here are based on aerial photos and other information from the hunters. The hunters have agreed to have an onsite visit after hearing what I wrote up for them here.
We talk about hunting pressure a lot. I think most people have a good understanding that they should be very careful on how often you hunt a stand and be aware of the specific winds you can hunt certain stands.
We think a lot about where our wind is blowing while on stand but not enough of the pressure, impact and scent dispersion that occurs while you access your stands.
“This is the way we always have accessed” “There is no other way to get to that stand”.
Phrases I’ve used myself and phrases I hear others use all the time.
It sucks worrying about your access! It would be ideal that the only time you had to be on your A game was in the stand.
But.. nonetheless that is not the case.
The truth is that if your access is faulty you might as well turn back around and drive home because you are wasting your time. It’s kinda like going to a tailgate party with a bunch of meat but you leave the grill and beer. Sounds like a shitty party..
So let’s button up this access plan.
This property is a 64 acre rectangle nestled into the hills of SW Wisconsin. The property runs from the south to north with the south end being a low point with a creek running along the southern ¼ West to East. General topography runs East to west along the steep hillsides that give SW WI the nickname “The Driftless Region”.
Neighbors have large ag fields to the North East and to the West that fall off into large timber blocks.
Major Challenges here are the access. The hunters have been accessing from one point for years in the SE corner of the property near some buildings. They access from a low position and walk up into the hills and timber to hunt or stay down along the creek.
When I looked at this property I could tell right away we needed to get up on the high points where the appropriate access would allow or hunt tight to that creek and play thermals.
Previously the hunters have had the most success at stand 2 and some recent success at stand 1. (See Figure “Old Hunting Setup”)
Property Intrusion Percentage:
This is a cool little phrase I made and put a number to demonstrate the amount of intrusion you are causing on a property.
How do we find this? Consider the wind direction while you are accessing and trace where you walk plus 100 yards downwind. That is a fair and general understanding of how much space you are disturbing.
In this demonstration the old way to access stand 1 would impact the whole woodline along the creek.
Property in question is:
Total Acres: 64
Huntable Acres: 60
Current Method Of Hunting:
Yards of walking access: (Old access) 1,606 (Almost a Mile)
Disturbed Acres (DA): 22 (North Wind, Probably the most advantageous wind to hunt this farm)
Property Intrusion Rate (PIR): 34%
New Proposed Method Of Hunting:
Yards of walking access: 1,150 Yards
Disturbed Acres (DA): 7 (North Wind)
Property Intrusion Rate (PIR): 10%
I don’t include topography in this percentage as that is not very precise from a map but you can tell this property has steep hills that you are exposed to as you access from the south end.
That makes me believe even more intrusion would take place by visual intrusion as deer will bed up on those hills overlooking valleys where they can’t smell. With that into consideration I could see the Property Intrusion Rate (PIR) being as high as 70%.
By creating access corridors on this property on the East and West borders they have reduced intrusion substantially. Using the topography to our advantage I could see it being as low as 5% with the correct wind.
We have placed stands along the West access corridor that should intercept East to West general movement.
We included two food plots for structure to create two pinch points. With this setup any deer that is coming or going from the property should get pinched down into these small corridors.
We are leaving the whole NE section of the farm untouched.
I would never say we could heal all hunting issues by just looking at an aerial map but in this situation it has already started a 180 switch in the way these hunters are thinking about hunting. Once we get boots on the ground, things might change a little bit but I am confident if the hunters follow this plan their success will increase exponentially.
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About The Author: Taylor Henry
Taylor is the Owner and founder of 1080 Outdoors. He founded the company from his drive and passion of the Outdoors. He thoroughly enjoys Turkey and Deer Hunting in midwest. He runs a digital marketing company after he recently left the Law Enforcement profession. Follow along on Taylor’s hunting journey this year.